Staff Reviews / Book Reviews

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and teens! These book reviews also are published at; follow us for the latest updates.

"The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

'The Invention of Wings' by Sue Monk Kidd

★★★★★ Sarah Grimke is just a child when she is given the ten-year-old slave girl Hetty 'Handful' Grimke as a present on her eleventh birthday. Sarah knows in this moment that she cannot be a part of the slave owning lifestyle of her southern aristocratic family. Sarah tries to free Hetty and is quickly put in her place by her powerful mother. Hetty’s equally strong willed mother makes Sarah promise that she will find a way to free Handful, and ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Invention of Wings" at »

"Pasta Night (Williams-Sonoma)" by Kate McMillan

'Pasta Night (Williams-Sonoma)' by Kate McMillan

★★★★ This is a wonderful collection of simple pasta dishes sure to please. It's beautifully laid out and has a recipe for everyone, including recipes for sauces, pasta (vegetarian, meat, and seafood versions), as well as salads and sides. There are no intimidating ingredient lists, just recipes that are sure to pique any appetite! ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Pasta Night (Williams-Sonoma)" at »

"Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

'Orphan Train' by Christina Baker Kline

★★★★★ I finally had a chance to read this book I kept hearing about, and it did not disappoint! This novel follows Molly, a present day child in the child welfare system, as well as a girl from the past known by many names. Molly meets this woman, now Vivian, through a community service project, and as they sift through Vivian's attic, they sift through her past. The story that unwinds, through Vivian's flashbacks, is a deeply moving story. I fo ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Orphan Train" at »

"How to Train a Train" by Jason Carter Eaton

'How to Train a Train' by Jason Carter Eaton

★★★★★ How do you train your train? Need help? Check this book out to learn how to catch a live train, train your pet train, name your train, play with your train, and care for your new friend. All of your friends will be impressed with your knowledge of pet train behavior! There are also incredible pictures included to help illustrate different train personalities and needs. Consider yourself lucky to have such a resource at your fingertips! Pet ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "How to Train a Train" at »

"Neverhome" by Laird Hunt

'Neverhome' by Laird Hunt

★★★★ Ash Thompson is not all that he appears to be. In fact, he is not a man at all, but a woman serving in the army in her husband's stead. She is surrounded by mystery and intrigue. She is brave, strong, and faithful. Through her journey she is a soldier, a legend, a woman locked up for insanity and rumors of traitorous behavior, and a puzzle. This novel is an intriguing inside look at what life was like for the women who snuck into the army ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Neverhome" at »

"Last Post: The Final Word from Our First World War Soldiers" by Max Arthur

'Last Post: The Final Word from Our First World War Soldiers' by Max Arthur

★★★★ Being unfamiliar with much about the WWI, the last great war, I was eager to hear of stories from the mouths of those few soldiers still left to tell the tale. This 2005 book is a narrative account of those few British soldiers still alive and able to relay their firsthand accounts and stories of an era that will perish when they do. Approximately 20 men, all over 100 and some 106 and 107 years old tell of a different time and place. They ...

Reviewed by Marsha Y. Read more reviews of "Last Post: The Final Word from Our First World War Soldiers" at »

"The King's Curse (The Cousins' War, #6)" by Philippa Gregory

'The King's Curse (The Cousins' War, #6)' by Philippa Gregory

★★★★★ Acting as a hinge between Gregory's Cousins' War series and her Tudor series, "The King's Curse" follows the life of Margaret Pole, the niece of Edward IV and Richard III. Through Margaret's eyes, we see Katherine of Aragon come to England, Anne Boleyn rise to power and her execution, and Jane Seymour give birth to the future Edward VI and die. We also watch in horror as Henry VIII transforms from the golden, beloved Tudor prince and king ...

Reviewed by Anna C. Read more reviews of "The King's Curse (The Cousins' War, #6)" at »

"Chop Chop" by Simon Wroe

'Chop Chop' by Simon Wroe

★★★★ Fans of Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" will enjoy this fictionalized account of restaurant life in London. The protagonist stumbles into a restaurant job after he is unable to find work with his English literature degree. He is given menial kitchen tasks and christened "Monocle" by his crude coworkers. His boss is a sadistic tyrant who enjoys punishing his employees by locking them in the walk-in cooler or pouring scalding caram ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Chop Chop" at »

"Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life" by Sophia Loren

'Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life' by Sophia Loren

★★★★ Sophia Loren's memoir details her incredible life; full of beauty, love, success, but also tragedy and pain. The daughter of a single mother, Loren grew up in poverty during World War II in Italy and never had much contact with her father. She received her start in beauty pageants, and soon transitioned to film after she was noticed by her future husband, producer Carlo Ponti. Loren's first Hollywood film, "The Pride and the Passion," pair ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life" at »

"Shopaholic to the Stars (Shopaholic, #7)" by Sophie Kinsella

'Shopaholic to the Stars (Shopaholic, #7)' by Sophie Kinsella

★★★★ The latest book in the Shopaholic series finds Becky and her family in Hollywood. Her husband Luke is there to manage the career of famous young actress, Sage Seymour, while Becky has her heart set on becoming the next big celebrity stylist. In typical Becky fashion, things become complicated and hilarious when Becky joins the team of Sage's rival, hires a security team, and joins a new-age yoga retreat center. Becky's celebrity status spi ...

Reviewed by Laura W. Read more reviews of "Shopaholic to the Stars (Shopaholic, #7)" at »

"Lock In" by John Scalzi

'Lock In' by John Scalzi

★★★★★ This fast-paced read got me thinking about what would happen if 'The Haden's Disease' actually existed. Haden's is a disease that effected the world population, starting out as a flu, continuing on to meningitis, and finally being "locked in". Only 1% get to the locked in stage, and it sounds just the name suggests. The lucky few that survived the meningitis stage and didn't become locked in, are known as Integrators. This story revolves a ...

Reviewed by Heather B. Read more reviews of "Lock In" at »

"After I'm Gone" by Laura Lippman

'After I'm Gone' by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ On July 4, 1976, Felix Brewster flees the U.S. and an impending prison sentence, leaving his wife (Bambi), three daughters, and a mistress (Julie) behind. Julie, who had made a life for herself with the coffee shop left in her name, disappears on the 10th anniversary of Felix’s flight, leading to speculation that she left to join her lover. The speculation ends with the discovery of Julie’s body, and her murder goes unsolved. In the me ...

Reviewed by Rachel H. Read more reviews of "After I'm Gone" at »

"While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" by Wendy Wax

'While We Were Watching Downton Abbey' by Wendy  Wax

★★★★★ Edward, the British concierge of a historic Atlanta apartment building, launches weekly viewing parties for the first two seasons of Downton Abbey in hopes of fostering community among the residents of the building. Among these residents are three women from different backgrounds and at different life stages—Samantha Davis, married for more than 25 years to a man from a prominent family, Claire, a single mother and recent empty-nester wh ...

Reviewed by Rachel H. Read more reviews of "While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" at »

"Dish Do-Over" by Joanne Lusted

'Dish Do-Over' by Joanne Lusted

★★★★★ Do you wish that you could still eat some of your favorite meals but with less fat? This cookbook has all of that plus helpful hints on substitutes for your household recipes as well. The recipes are organized in an easy way and explained in clear step-by-step instructions to make it as simple as possible. The pictures of the final result look just as delicious to its original, and more unhealthy, counterpart. There are many classic dishes ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Dish Do-Over" at »

"Dancing with Myself" by Billy Idol

'Dancing with Myself' by Billy Idol

★★★★ Billy Idol's memoir is a candid recollection of his life as a bad boy rocker in the 80s and 90s. Unlike some other rock star memoirs, Billy Idol doesn't make excuses for his behavior. He admits fault for the hurt he caused to his longtime girlfriend Perri and his family because of his drug use and infidelity. Idol also discusses his musical influences, and how he went from William Broad to Billy Idol. (Hint: peroxide, leather, and the famo ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Dancing with Myself" at »

"The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez

'The Book of Unknown Americans' by Cristina Henriquez

★★★★★ Maribel Rivera is a happy, beautiful girl living with her family in Mexico when a tragic accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury changes everything. The Riveras must make the tough decision to uproot their family from their comfortable life in Mexico in order to give Maribel her best chance in an American school in Delaware. After making the 30-hour trek in the backseat of a pickup truck, the family quickly discovers that making a l ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Book of Unknown Americans" at »

"The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor" by Gina Homolka

'The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor' by Gina Homolka

★★★★★ The tagline says it all "light on calories, big on flavor." This debut cookbook from popular food blogger Gina Homolka contains tons of recipes for creating delicious, low-calorie, and nutrient rich dishes. Ms. Homolka's recipes rely on whole foods as well as tips and tricks for reducing the calorie content of foods. This reviewer loved the shrimp and grits and the apple-pear crumble. This is a definite must-read for the calorie-conscious ...

Reviewed by Anna C. Read more reviews of "The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor" at »

"Anatomy of a Misfit" by Andrea Portes

'Anatomy of a Misfit' by Andrea Portes

★★★★★ This book tells us the story of Anika, a tenth grader who is experiencing high school at it's greatest. She is trying to remain in the popular hierarchy, live with a unique family situation, and is torn between two boys who are vastly different. Anika has to decide to follow the crowd or to stay true to herself as she tries to fit in. The author did an excellent job of portraying real teenagers today and the struggles that they face. Anika ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Anatomy of a Misfit" at »

"Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season" by Hannah Kaminsky

'Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season' by Hannah Kaminsky

★★★★★ This is an excellent source of delicious vegan desserts, for vegans and non-vegans alike! Recipes are separated into the four seasons and every one is beautifully illustrated, which makes preparing many recipes quite easy! Just like Kaminsky's other excellent vegan dessert resource, "Vegan a la Mode" (which everyone should check out as well), this collection of recipes is sure to capture any lover of desserts! ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season" at »

"500 Optical Illusions" by Keith Kay

'500 Optical Illusions' by Keith Kay

★★★★★ This is a really fun book! I have loved optical illusions since I was a kid and this book is full of some of the best. You'll have fun trying to figure them out while you train your eyes and brain to process the images in different ways. Also, the author provides the answers to the puzzles in the back so you don't get too frustrated. Go ahead and take some time to enjoy something a little different. ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "500 Optical Illusions" at »

"Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" by Chris Bohjalian

'Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands' by Chris Bohjalian

★★★★★ This beautiful, tragic, heart-wrenching book tells the story of Emily, a teen who finds herself orphaned and homeless following a nuclear meltdown at the plant where her parents worked. Fearing that she will be blamed for the mistakes of her father, Emily runs away, assumes a new name, and struggles to survive on the streets. We sit helplessly by as she is faced with drugs, prostitution, and self-harm in her struggle between survival and s ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" at »

"Little One-Yard Wonders: Irresistible Clothes, Toys, and Accessories You Can Make for Babies and Kids" by Patricia Hoskins

'Little One-Yard Wonders: Irresistible Clothes, Toys, and Accessories You Can Make for Babies and Kids' by Patricia Hoskins

★★★★ This is an excellent addition to the other books in the One-Yard Wonders series. There are 101 sewing project ideas that you can make with just one yard of fabric! Find all of that scrap fabric you have at home at put it to good use making all sorts of useful things for babies to toddlers. One of my favorite projects is the car organizer! Any beginning crafter or sewer will be able to complete most of these projects. The instructions are e ...

Reviewed by Ashley C. Read more reviews of "Little One-Yard Wonders: Irresistible Clothes, Toys, and Accessories You Can Make for Babies and Kids" at »

"The Old Farmer's Almanac Comfort Food: Every dish you love, every recipe you want" by Ken Haedrich

'The Old Farmer's Almanac Comfort Food: Every dish you love, every recipe you want' by Ken Haedrich

★★★★ As winter approaches, I can't think of a better cookbook to delve in to. This cookbook is filled with all your favorite comfort food recipes, including soups and stews perfect for the colder weather, as well as appetizers, breads, pizzas, casseroles, and desserts. None of them are too daunting, just classic comfort food recipes that everyone is sure to love. In a tribute to Farmer's Almanac style, many of the recipes have facts about the r ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "The Old Farmer's Almanac Comfort Food: Every dish you love, every recipe you want" at »

"Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America" by John Waters

'Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America' by John Waters

★★★ John Waters, eccentric director of the original Hairspray and Cry Baby, hitchhikes from Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco, and lives to write a book about his journey! About two-thirds of the book are novellas. The first one details all of the horrible things that Waters thought would happen to him. The second novella describes a best-case scenario, complete with plenty of romantic encounters and oddball characters. Waters recoun ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America" at »

"The Enchanted" by Rene Denfeld

'The Enchanted' by Rene Denfeld

★★★★ The enchanted place is not what you might expect. In fact, it is a prison, and its story is being told by a death row inmate. We are given a front row seat to viewing what goes on in this world and we are pulled along as the lady tries to save the life of a prisoner who simply wants to die. We are also able to glimpse a little of the life of the lady, the warden, the fallen priest, and other staff whose lives play out both in and outside o ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Enchanted" at »

25 | Based on the Goodreads API.